August 15th 2009

Separation For Purpose

10 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14

“In the church at Antioch…the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off”.
Acts 13:1-3 (NIV UK)

In the above passage Barnabas and Saul are separated for the work of taking the gospel to the non-Jews. To symbolize this separation the ceremony of the laying on of hands took place.

This setting apart for a specific role in the church was not so that they could be filled with the Spirit. Barnabas was already “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:24), as was Saul (9:17).In other instances, such as when Stephen and various disciples were selected to organize distribution of provisions and funds, those involved were chosen because they had already demonstrated through their example that they too were “full of the Holy Spirit” (6:6).

This was the second time in Acts that Saul had received the laying on of hands. The first was when his sight was restored and he was baptized by Ananias. Following the pattern of the New Testament church Saul, like other believers, received the Spirit “by the hearing of faith” in the redeeming sacrifice of Christ (Galatians 3:2), witnessed to symbolically through baptism (Romans 6:3-4), and, by the laying on of hands, he was set apart for the purpose of holiness.

If elders of the church conducted the laying on of hands when you were assigned a role in the church, you should not “neglect the gift” of service to the church that has been given to you (1 Timothy 4:14).

Whether or not we have been ordained or commissioned to a specific church responsibility, we have all been set aside for holiness. Paul (Saul) reminds Timothy, who had been brought up in the faith by both his mother and grandmother, to “stir up the gift” that was in him through the laying on of Paul’s hands, presumably administered at Timothy’s baptism. Even if some did not receive the ceremonial laying on of hands at baptism, Christians have still been set apart for holiness.

“Be separate”, says the Lord. We are called to a holy purpose, which is a special fellowship in the work of Christ. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the LORD almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

Father, Lord almighty, thank you that through your Holy Spirit you have separated me for the holy purpose of becoming one of your children.

Study by James Henderson 

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